Thanks to the generous ASOR Heritage Fellowship, from late June till early August 2011, I participated in the excavations of the Upper and Epipaleolithic site of Wadi Madamagh in the Petra region in Jordan. The excavation was part of the Western Highlands Early Epipaleolithic Project directed by Dr. Deborah Olszewski from University of Pennsylvania in Philadelphia and Dr. Maysoon Al-Nahar from University of Jordan in Amman. As a part of the team comprised of undergraduate and graduate students from University of Pennsylvania, University of Connecticut, University College London, University of Jordan and Yarmouk University in Irbid, I participated in the excavation of the Epipaleolithic levels of the site, as well as in processing of recovered lithic artifacts and faunal remains in the laboratory.
The whole project is about examination of the range of variation in modern human hunter-gatherer adaptations during the Last Glacial Maximum (25,000 – 18,000 years ago) in Levant. One significant feature of the project is in tracing the earliest signs for the hallmarks of the transition of hunter-gatherer strategies into a way of life that is more sedentary and more independent of fluctuations in the availability of wild resources. From a broad perspective, this project indirectly traces the origins of agriculture.
Participation in this project gave me an excellent opportunity to obtain and exchange some fundamental knowledge of lithic material of the Levantine Epipaleolithic period, as well as of the methodology of excavation of an Epipaleolithic site in general. Beside the scientific value, the project had a cultural dimension of the experience, especially through living and corresponding with students from Jordan in our base house in the village of Beida, as well as with the village local people. All of this will be of a special value to my anticipated future research projects about adaptations and behavior of Pleistocene hunter-gatherers in the Near Eastern geographical area. I wish to thank ASOR once more.
-Zeljko Rezek, Heritage Fellow 2011